CHANGED RELATIONSHIPS: COLOSSIANS 3 | Colossians
Monday— Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom (v 16).
“I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind!” “That guy needs to be set straight and I’m the one to do it!” “If you think like that, you’ve got another think coming!” We have no trouble admonishing someone when our hackles are up, but that’s not what this verse is talking about. Notice all the prerequisites: We must know the message of Christ, it must dwell in us richly, we should be able to teach as well as admonish, and we can only admonish when we use wisdom. Kinda shuts us up, doesn’t it?
The word translated “admonish” means to place positive pressure, to urge someone in the right direction. It’s stronger than advice, but it doesn’t always mean rebuke. We admonish our teenagers when we’re teaching them to drive. We admonish our best friends when they’re about to date a psycho. Paul tells us to admonish each other from a place of wisdom, not a place of jealousy, self-righteousness, or manipulation. When we let the message of Christ dwell in us, we see more clearly when our family or friends are sliding off track. We admonish them with “C’mon, this isn’t right. Get back to where God wants you so He can bless your life. I’ll be here for you if you’re ready to do that, but I won’t watch you self-destruct.” Not only should we learn to admonish the people we love in Christlike wisdom, but we need to learn how to receive admonishment when we need it.
Final Thought: We all need to be admonished at times. What is your response when someone admonishes you?
Prayer: Father, I want to learn how to build godly relationships. You say teaching and admonishing are important parts of that. Help me as I pursue wisdom. May your word dwell richly in me that I can be a positive pressure for my friends. Amen.
Tuesday— Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since… you were called to peace. And be thankful (v 15).
Jay stared at the ceiling. 3:00 am. His mind couldn’t relax. FOX News was everywhere about another bombing in the Middle East, COVID wouldn’t quit, and school shootings were becoming daily occurrences. CNN was still ranting about Trump, and Jay’s two best friends had staged a social media war. He’d tried to find some good news, but even the Christian commentators were obsessed with the latest fallen minister, worship artists denouncing Christ, and gay issues. Sure, it was all important. He needed to know what’s going on, but MAN! Throw in the price of a new iPhone and an old payday loan and who can sleep?
Ever feel like that? We’re all suffering from information overload. If we had fuses in our brains, they’d have blown by now. The human body was not designed to live in 21st century America. The possibility of peace seems as outdated as the rotary dial telephone. The kind of stress we feel is unprecedented in human history and we take it out on people near us. But peace is NOT outdated. It’s a command for all generations in all seasons. Peace is available BUT…we have to fight for it. Guard it. Spread it. We have to turn off, unplug, and disconnect from stress factories. God commands us to pursue a tranquil spirit in the middle of a chaotic world because that kind of peace is like a lighthouse in a stormy sea. It draws the drowning, gives hope to the battered, and guides the lost to a safe harbor. A peaceful, thankful spirit changes relationships. It’s a gift to the world.
Final Thought: Does the peace of Christ rule in your heart, despite all that’s going on? Fight for it! (John 14:27)
Prayer: Father, I’ve grown careless in guarding the peace of my heart. I’m letting the world’s craziness seep into my spirit. I choose now to be intentional about letting your peace rule in my heart. I want to be a lighthouse. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus… (v 17).
“I don’t wanna go in there,” Ken murmured. “It’s a setup. They’ve been gunning for my job since I got here. What should I do?”
“My family get-togethers make the Kardashians look functional,” sighed Sheri. “My relatives mock Christianity. Should I go?”
“I’ve gotta give the opening speech,” said Lu. “There’ll be hundreds of CEO’s and execs there. What should I say?”
Put your dreaded situation in the blanks: “I have to _______________. It won’t be easy or fun. What should I do?”
The answer is the same for all four questions. The goal of every Christian in every situation is to represent Jesus well.
What if that phrase dictated everything we said and did? What if we took “I want to represent Jesus well” into the most hostile territories, the scariest situations, and before the toughest audiences? We wear it like a hazmat suit when we must smile at enemies, respond gently to hostility, and serve those who’ve wronged us. It’s not our job to defend ourselves, right every wrong, or make sure everyone likes us. It IS our job to represent Jesus well in everything we do. Life is not a popularity contest. It’s not about dying with the most toys or making ourselves happy. Life is bigger than that. We’re here for God’s purposes, not ours. So when we face a difficult situation, we need only one goal: “I want to represent Jesus well.”
Final Thought: What would it look like in your world if your primary concern was “Did I represent Jesus well?”
Prayer: Father, this would simplify things if my only concern was representing you well. If I accurately represent you, then I’ve fulfilled the purpose of every encounter. There is joy, no matter how hard it was, because that’s why I’m here. Amen.
Thursday— Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord (v 22).
“Yep! See! There it is. The Bible condones slavery, so we reject the Bible!” Before we jump on that bandwagon, let’s take a closer look. Is Paul telling Christians to buy slaves? Is he cheering for slavery? Of course not, but that was the culture of the day all over the world. When Americans hear the word “slavery,” we think it means the evil capture of other races to do forced work. But in Bible times, slaves were everything from captured prisoners to men who couldn’t pay debts, so they indentured themselves until the debt was paid. Regardless of why people were slaves, Paul tells them to go beyond the requirements.
We don’t have legal slavery in the U.S., but some of our jobs can feel like it. When we’re stuck in a terrible work environment, it’s tempting to let everyone else know how much we hate it. We’re tempted to gossip about the boss, slack off whenever we can, and do only as much as we have to. Paul shoots that down and tells us why. Our service is not for that ungrateful tyrant behind the corporate desk; we’re serving the Lord. The boss may be out, but Jesus sees us goofing off. The supervisor may not be looking, but Jesus sees us steal those items and justify it to ourselves: “They don’t pay me enough. I deserve this.”
The same principles that apply to slaves apply to every worker. Reverent fear of the Lord compels us to excellence all the time.
Final Thought: Do you work as though Jesus was your boss? If He was, what would you do differently?
Prayer: Lord, this convicts me. I often do only enough to get by, but I don’t think that attitude pleases you. If a slave had to go over and above for a master, I will go over and above for my employer out of my reverent fear of you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism (v 25).
*A millionaire charged with sex trafficking gets a slap on the wrist and a golf date with the judge.
*A Presidential candidate charged with the deaths of innocent civilians makes it all disappear and she stays in power.
*A wife-beating cop gets only a warning while a loving father faces five years for disciplining his rebellious son.
Injustice fires us up like nothing else does. When we sit helplessly by and watch the rich and powerful get away with murder, we can even be angry at God. Why would He let those people get away with what they did? Everyone knows OJ did it and the Clintons are crooked, but nothing happens to them. Big Shots seem able to commit any atrocity they want and get away with it. But are they getting away with it? We sigh dismissively when someone mentions hell, but God doesn’t. He reminds us that He sees absolutely everything and He keeps excellent records. No one is getting away with anything—including us! God’s justice is so precise that even our third-grade lying spree puts us in the red because God shows no favoritism. Our sins will be punished just like those of Jeffery Epstein because God doesn’t even glance at our bank balance. Everyone faces hell. There is no favoritism. But when we surrender our lives to Jesus, it’s like getting away with it. Jesus got repaid for the evil we did.
Final Thought: Every sin, every crime will be punished. We either let Jesus pay for it, or we will have to pay for it ourselves.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you that I don’t have to be repaid for the wrong I’ve done. You took that punishment on yourself. I believe in you, I trust in you, and I surrender to you as my Lord and Savior. Justice has been satisfied because of you. Amen.